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Shipyards and dockyards are places which repair and build ship. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial construction. The terms are routinely used interchangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.

Countries with large ship building industries include South Koreamarker, Australia, Japanmarker, Chinamarker, Germanymarker, Turkeymarker, Polandmarker and Croatiamarker. The shipbuilding industry tends to be more fragmented in Europe than in Asia. In European countries there are more smaller companies, compared to the fewer, larger companies in the ship building countries of Asia.

Most ship builders in the United Statesmarker are privately owned, the largest being Northrop Grumman, a multi-billion dollar defense contractor. The publicly owned shipyards in the US are Naval facilities providing basing, support and repair.

Shipyards are constructed by the sea or by tidal rivers to allow easy access for their ships. In the United Kingdommarker, for example, shipyards were established on the River Thames (King Henry VIII founded yards at Woolwichmarker and Deptfordmarker in 1512 and 1513 respectively), River Merseymarker, River Teesmarker, River Tyne, River Wearmarker and River Clyde - the latter growing to be the World's pre-eminent shipbuilding centre.

Sir Alfred Yarrow established his yard by the Thames in Londonmarker's Docklands in the late 19th century before moving it northwards to the banks of the Clyde at Scotstounmarker (1906-08). Other famous UK shipyards include the Harland and Wolffmarker yard in Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker, where the Titanicmarker was built, and the naval dockyard at Chatham, Englandmarker on the Medway in north Kentmarker.

The site of a large shipyard will contain many specialised crane, dry docks, slipways, dust-free warehouses, painting facilities and extremely large areas for fabrication of the ships.

After a ship's useful life is over, it makes its final voyage to a shipbreaking yard, often on a beach in South Asia. Historically shipbreaking was carried on in drydock in developed countries, but high wages and environmental regulations have resulted in movement of the industry to developing regions.


The world's earliest dockyards were built in the Harappan port city of Lothalmarker circa 2400 BC in Gujaratmarker, Indiamarker. Lothal's dockyards connected to an ancient course of the Sabarmatimarker river on the trade route between Harappanmarker cities in Sindhmarker and the peninsula of Saurashtramarker when the surrounding Kutch desert was a part of the Arabian Seamarker.

Lothal engineers accorded high priority to the creation of a dockyard and a warehouse to serve the purposes of naval trade. The dock was built on the eastern flank of the town, and is regarded by archaeologists as an engineering feat of the highest order. It was located away from the main current of the river to avoid silting, but provided access to ships in high tide as well.

The name of the ancient Greek city of Naupactusmarker means "shipyeard" (combination of the Greek words ναύς naus ship, boat and πήγνυμι pêgnumi, pegnymi builder, fixer). Naupactus' repuation in this field extends to the time of legend, where it is depicted as the place where the Heraclidae built a fleet to invade the Peloponnesusmarker.

Ships were the first items to be manufactured in a factory, several hundred years before the Industrial Revolution, in the Venice Arsenalmarker, Venicemarker, Italymarker. The Arsenal apparently mass produced nearly one ship every day using pre-manufactured parts, and assembly lines and, at its height, employed 16,000 people.

Historic shipyards

Prominent dockyards and shipyards

  • South America

  • Europe
Girvan shipyard, Ayrshire, Scotland

  • Asia
    • Hyundai Heavy Industries Ulsan Shipyard, in South Korea, is currently the largest in the world and has the capability to build a variety of vessels including Commercial Cargo, Offshore and Naval vessels.
    • Yantai_Raffles_Shipyardmarker [30299] is the largest offshore builder in Chinamarker located in Yantai. Its predominant feature is the 20,000 ton crane Taisunmarker, holder of the Heavy Lift World Record. Yantai Raffles' portfolio includes offshore platforms, pipe lay and other specialized vessels.

  • Oceania

  • Africa

See also


External links

  • Sea Your History - Website from the Royal Naval Museum - Discover detailed information about Portsmouth Dockyard and the Royal Navy in the 20th Century.
  • U.S. Shipyards - extensive collection of information about U. S. shipyards, including over 500 pages of U. S. shipyard construction records
  • Trading Places - interactive history of European dockyards
  • Shipyards United States - from
  • Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard

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